By Daniel Hunter

A joint government-industry initiative to encourage young people to consider a career in manufacturing moved into the fast lane when McLaren roared into Westminster today (Wednesday).

The McLaren Manufacturing Challenge forms part of the See Inside Manufacturing (SIM) campaign by getting students to think about engineering in a practical, hands-on sense by designing a motor-less vehicle that, just as in Formula 1, must comply with strict regulations but be as fast as possible.

Three schools will take part in a showcase at the Department for Business before competing in the grand final at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking on 8 November.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “See Inside Manufacturing plays an important part in challenging outdated perceptions of industry. The manufacturing sector is crucial to building a stronger economy — supporting two and a half million jobs and contributing almost £140 billion a year to the UK.

“Working with business I want to inspire young people to see just how dynamic the industry is. Events like this will put them in pole position to get involved in these rewarding careers.”

Alan Foster, Operations Director at McLaren Automotive said: “Nearly everything that we use in our lives today is born out of engineering. The UK has a proud heritage in this field and boasts some of the best engineers and manufacturing facilities in the world. However, there is still an outdated perception amongst young people that it is an ‘oily-rag’ industry and doesn’t represent an exciting career choice. You only need ask the hundreds of talented engineers working on Jenson Button’s Formula 1 car or the new McLaren P1 super car to know that nothing could be further from the truth.

“This is the third year we’ve run the McLaren Manufacturing Challenge and welcomed students in to see our facilities. We’re continually amazed by the level of ingenuity shown in the vehicles they design and hope that it’s an experience that inspires them to go on and be the McLaren engineers of the future.”

SIM involves businesses opening their doors to young people and teachers, allowing them a first-hand view of modern manufacturing and the exciting jobs available.

Before giving the green light to start the McLaren Manufacturing Challenge Dr Cable heard what other sectors were doing to support SIM. The Business Secretary met with representatives from Airbus, Chemicals Industries Association (CIA), Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and EngineeringUK.

SIM is part of the industrial strategy work to ensure business can attract the talent they need for growth. With seven new industries joining automotive, aerospace, and food & drink this year the full list of sectors taking part is:

-Oil & Gas
-Offshore Wind
-Life Sciences
-Food & drink

For those interested in finding out more, the See Inside Manufacturing portal has further information at

BIS are also supporting Tomorrow’s Engineers Week (#TEWeek13) which takes place from 4-8 November 2013 and aims to change perceptions of engineering among young people, their parents and teachers. The campaign will challenge outdated negative perceptions about engineering careers, particularly amongst women, and demonstrate the relevance of engineering to young people’s everyday lives.

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